Government, Industry, Academics to Address Cutting-edge Energy Technologies at Penn Conference

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Media Contact:Andrew Shinn | | 215-573-8386June 14, 2011

PHILADELPHIA  -- Following this week’s release of the Office of the Executive’s “A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid,” Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, willaddress Urban Smart Grid and Energy Innovation, a conference organized by the Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) at 6 p.m. today, June 14. 

Responding to Wellinghoff’s report, panelists will address cutting-edge energy technologies taking hold in cities across the country, including right here in Philadelphia, where the recently announced Energy Conservation and Development Zone will transform how energy is used in Center City.   Panelists include Brewster McCracken, executive director of Austin’s Pecan Street Project, one of the most progressive smart grid projects in the country; Audrey Zibelman, president and CEO of Philadelphia’s Viridity Energy, which just last month launched a downtown microgrid project with Philadelphia’s Center City District; and Sara C. Bronin, co-director of the Center for Energy & Environmental Law at the University of Connecticut School of Law, and a leading national thinker in state and federal energy policy.
The discussion will address how smart grids and microgrids hold the key to our country’s downtowns’ energy future.  It will explore what new technologies will pave the way for energy use that’s not just smart, but interactive, with people, buildings and grids responding in real time both to human behavior and to energy prices that change by the minute.
Tuesday’s public event will be followed tomorrow by America’s Sustainable Future: How U.S. Cities Are Making Energy Work, an invitational conference of public-private partnership efforts from U.S. cities pursuing innovative energy management and smart grid initiatives. The assembled leaders in industry, research and policy-making will explore the diverse energy strategies emerging in Philadelphia and across the United States.
Featured speakers include Mayor Michael Nutter, City of Philadelphia; Stockton Williams, U.S. Department of Energy; Paul Levy, Philadelphia Center City District; Mark Hura, General Electric; Wayne Gardner, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission; Mark Alan Hughes, PennDesign/Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster; Bracken Hendricks, Center for American Progress; Brewster McCracken, Pecan Street Project.
“We’re really looking forward to both learning from the great examples set by other cities represented in the conference, and showing off the groundbreaking work happening right here in Philadelphia,” says Laurie Actman, Viridity Energy’s director of strategic partnerships and public policy. “With smart ideas and smart policy, we should be able to build support for smart grid projects and microgrids at the federal, state and local level.”
"Energy technology is changing at such a rapid pace, it's crucial to examine who's doing it right in smart grid and microgrid projects all around the country," says Eugenie Birch, Penn IUR co-director. "With the right policy moves—which we'll be exploring at the conference—Philadelphia can be a national leader in energy innovation," noted Susan Wachter, Penn IUR co-director.